I was walking home this morning to my house in Lewes in East Sussex in England and I noticed, at the top of Sun Street, more greenery than there used to be visible from this position. Maybe I was imagining it.
At the top of the street I could see that it was my old friend Brach Mound, a prehistoric, man-made fortification which borders onto my back garden. It hadn’t orown, well I don’t think it has, but the plant life on it most certainly has put on quite a burst of energy.
Back home, I went out into the garden to take a closer look and I was reminded of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the witches’ prophesy that he would be safe until the apparently impossible happened. that is he would be OK unless Birnam Wood started to move.
“Macbeth shall never vanquished be until
great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill
Shall come against him.”
In the play, of course, it is Macbeth’s enemies that cut down branches from the woods and march forward under camouflage. Here in Lewes, I suspect something much more sinister. Brach Mound’s foliage is definitely on the move and I am now fearing that my enemies will finally vanquish me or, if not me, then my garden which sits innocently beneath the great mound.
I have kept my edges trimmed but my neighbours gardens are definitely in danger of imminent invasion…
…and, if I am not careful, I will be next.
As I sit here with my coffee, I try to put my enemies out of my mind and, instead, cast my thoughts back over my nearly three years living with a prehistoric site which talks to me from just outside my study window.
It is not the first time that I have sat here pondering such things.
Brach Mound is a fascinating neighbour and it often gives off vibrations from times long before me and long before this two hundred year old house was built. I watch it change through the seasons and, until this year, I have also enjoyed a ring-side seat when two brave men get harnassed together to cut back the foliage at the beginning of each new year.
The land is owned by the Sussex Archaeological Society, who have, until this year, taken their neighbourly duties as seriously as the guys do when they get into action with their chain saws. Letting it grow wild for a year has given us more birdsong and interesting insects, for sure, but another year like this and it could support a family of gorillas and the entire cast of that american drama series Lost. So let’s have those men back.
It is a precipitous climb and a terrifying fall so I can see why those men needed to work with ropes and hard hats. I missed them this year and suspect that, in this period of economic cuts, this is one cut that has had to be cut. Please Sussex Archaeological Society don’t let it get out of hand because, as I sit here I can see all those Sycamour Trees growing up through the brambles and, if you don’t watch out, this annual job that was, will be even tougher the next time you get up there.
When the work was done in the past, we were left with a bald headed hill for sure but Nature is never idle and it was always a pleasure to watch it win back this space for itself.
It would begin as a clean sheet but it was never dull out there through all the changing seasons.
Below is what it looked like this time last year when it was beautifully green but still under control. So Sussex Archaeological Society, let us know your plans because we who live on the other side of your walls would like you to keep yourselves to yourself.